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The good attained by salvation is wonderfully various and exceeding great.
Here we may distinctly consider—the variety—and the greatness—of the good procured for men.
I. The good procured by salvation is wonderfully various. Here are all sorts of good procured for fallen man, that he does or can really need, or is capable of. The wisdom of God appears in the way of salvation, in that it is most worthy of an infinitely wise God, because every way perfect and sufficient. We, in our fallen state, are most necessitous creatures, full of wants: but they are here all answered. Every sort of good is here procured; whatever would really contribute to our happiness, and even many things we could not have thought of, had not Christ purchased them for us, and revealed them to us. Every demand of our circumstances, and craving of our natures, is here exactly answered.—For instance,
1. We stand in need of peace with God. We had provoked God to anger, his wrath abode upon us, and we needed to have it appeased. This is done for us in this way of salvation; for Christ, by shedding his blood, has fully satisfied justice, and appeased God’s wrath, for all that shall believe in him. By the sentence of the law we were condemned to hell; and we needed to have our sins pardoned that we might be delivered from hell. But in this work, pardon of sin and deliverance from hell, is fully purchased for us.
2. We needed not only to have God’s wrath appeased, and our sins pardoned; but we needed to have the favour of God. To have God, not only not our enemy, but our friend. Now God’s favour is purchased for us by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
3. We needed not only to be delivered from hell, but to have some satisfying happiness bestowed. Man has a natural craving and thirst after happiness; and will thirst and crave, till his capacity is filled. And his capacity is of vast extent; and nothing but an infinite good can fill and satisfy his desires. But, notwithstanding, provision is made in this way of salvation to answer those needs, there is a satisfying happiness purchased for us; that which is fully answerable to the capacity and cravings of our souls.
Here is food procured to answer all the appetites and faculties of our souls. God has made the soul of man of a spiritual nature; and therefore he needs a corresponding happiness; some spiritual object, in the enjoyment of which he may be happy. Christ has purchased the enjoyment of God, who is the great and original Spirit, as the portion of our souls. And he hath purchased the Spirit of God to come and dwell in us as an eternal principle of happiness.
God hath made man a rational, intelligent creature; and man needs some good that shall be a suitable object of his understanding, for him to contemplate; wherein he may have full and sufficient exercise for his capacious faculties, in their utmost extent. Here is an object that is great and noble, and worthy of the exercise of the noblest faculties of the rational soul.—God himself should be theirs, for them for ever to behold and contemplate; his glorious perfections and works are most worthy objects; and there is room enough for improving them, and still to exercise their faculties to all eternity.—What object can be more worthy to exercise the understanding of a rational soul, than the glories of the Divine Being, with which the heavenly intelligences, and even the infinite understanding of God himself is entertained?
Our souls need some good that shall be a suitable object of the will and affections; a suitable object for the choice, the acquiescence, the love, and the joy of the rational soul. Provision is made for this also in this way of salvation. There is an infinitely excellent Being offered to be chosen, to be rested in, to be loved, to be rejoiced in, by us: even God himself, who is infinitely lovely, the fountain of all good; a fountain that can never be exhausted, where we can be in no danger of going to excess in our love and joy: and here we may be assured ever to find our joy and delight in enjoyments answerable to our love and desires.
1464. There is all possible enjoyment of this object, procured in this way of salvation. When persons entirely set their love upon another, they naturally desire to see that person: merely to hear of the person, does not satisfy love. So here is provision made that we should see God, the object of our supreme love. Not only that we should hear and read of him in his word, but that we should see him with a spiritual eye here: and not only so, but that we should have the satisfaction of seeing God face to face hereafter. This is promised, (Matt. v. 8.) “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” It is promised, that we shall not see God, as through a glass darkly, as we do now, but face to face. 1 Cor. xiii. 12. That we shall see Christ as he is. 1 John iii. 2.
We naturally desire not only to see those whom we love, but to converse with them. Provision is made for this also, that we should have spiritual conversation with God while in this world; and that we should be hereafter admitted to converse with Christ in the most intimate manner possible. Provision is made in this way of salvation, that we should converse with God much more intimately, than otherwise it would have been possible for us; for now Christ is incarnate, is in our nature: he is become one of us, whereby we are under advantages for an immensely more free and intimate converse with him, than could have been, if he had remained only in the divine nature; and so in a nature infinitely distant from us.—We naturally desire not only to converse with those whom we greatly love, but to dwell with them. Provision, through Christ, is made for this. It is purchased and provided that we should dwell with God in his own house in heaven, which is called our Father’s house.—To dwell for ever in God’s presence, and at his right hand.
We naturally desire to have a right in that person whom we greatly love. Provision is made, in this way of salvation, that we should have a right in God; a right to him. This is the promise of the covenant of grace, “That he will be our God.” God, with all his glorious perfections and attributes, with all his power and wisdom, and with all his majesty and glory, will be ours; so that we may call him our inheritance, and the portion of our souls: what we can humbly claim by faith, having this portion made over to us by a firm instrument; by a covenant ordered in all things and sure.—And we may also hereby claim a right to Jesus Christ. Love desires that the right should be mutual. The lover desires, not only to have a right to the beloved, but that the beloved should also have a right to him: he desires to be his beloved’s, as well as his beloved should be his. Provision is also made for this, in this wise method of salvation, that God should have a special propriety in the redeemed, that they should be in a distinguishing manner his, that they should be his peculiar people. We are told that God sets apart the godly for himself, Psal. iv. 3. They are called God’s jewels. The spouse speaks it with great satisfaction and rejoicing, Cant. ii. 16. “My beloved is mine, and I am his.”
Love desires to stand in some near relation to the beloved. Provision is made by Christ, that we should stand in the nearest possible relation to God; that he should be our Father, and we should be his children. We are often instructed in the Holy Scriptures, that God is the Father of believers, and that they are his family.—And not only so, but they stand in the nearest relation to Christ Jesus. There is the closest union possible. The souls of believers are married to Christ. The church is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. Yea, there is yet a nearer relation than can be represented by such a similitude. Believers are as the very members of Christ, and of his flesh and of his bones, Eph. v. 30. Yea, this is not near enough yet, but they are one spirit, 1 Cor. vi. 17.
Love naturally inclines to a conformity to the beloved. To have those excellencies, upon the account of which he is beloved, copied in himself. Provision is made in this way of salvation, that we may be conformed to God; that we shall be transformed into the same image. 2 Cor. iii. 18. “We all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory.”—And that hereafter we shall see him as he is, and be like him.
It is the natural desire of love to do something for the beloved, either for his pleasure or honour. Provision is made for this also in this way of salvation; that we should be made instruments of glorifying God, and promoting his kingdom, here, and of glorifying him to all eternity.
5. In this way of salvation, provision is made for our having every sort of good that man naturally craves; as honour, wealth, and pleasure.—Here is provision made that we should be brought to the highest honour. This is what God has promised, that those that honour him, he will honour. And that true Christians shall be kings and priests unto God.—Christ has promised, that as his Father has appointed unto him a kingdom, so he will appoint unto them, that they may eat and drink at his table in his kingdom. He has promised to crown them with a crown of glory, and that they shall sit with him in his throne. That he will confess their names before his Father, and before his angels. That he will give them a new name; and that they shall walk with him in white.
Christ has also purchased for them the greatest wealth. All those that are in Christ are rich. They are now rich. They have the best riches; being rich in faith, and the graces of the Spirit of God. They have gold tried in the fire. They have durable riches and righteousness. They have treasure in heaven, where neither thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth. An inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away. They are possessors of all things.
Christ has also purchased pleasure for them; pleasures that are immensely preferable to all the pleasures of sense, most exquisitely sweet, and satisfying. He has purchased for them fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore at God’s right hand; and they shall drink of the river of God’s pleasure.
6. Christ has purchased all needed good both for soul and body. While we are here, we stand in need of these earthly things; and of these Christ has purchased all that are best for us. He has purchased for the body that God should feed, and clothe us. Matt. vi. 26. “How much more shall he feed you, O ye of little faith!” How much more shall he clothe you! Christ has purchased, that God should take care of us, and provide what is needed of these things, as a father provides for his children. 1 Pet. v. 7. “Casting your care upon him, for he careth for you.”
7. Christ has purchased good that is suitable for his people in all conditions. There is, in this way of salvation, respect had to, and provision made for, all circumstances that they can be in. Here is provision made, for a time of affliction—for a time of poverty and pinching want—for a time of bereavement and mourning—for spiritual darkness—for a day of temptation—for a time of persecution—and for a time of death. Here is such a provision made that is sufficient to carry a person above death, and all its terrors; and to give him a complete triumph over that king of terrors. Here is enough to sweeten the grave, and make it cease to seem terrible. Yea, enough to make death in prospect to seem desirable; and in its near approach to be not terrible but joyful.
8. There is provision made in this way of salvation for the life and blessedness of soul and body to all eternity. Christ has purchased, that we should be delivered from a state of temporal death, as well as spiritual and eternal. The bodies of the saints shall be raised to life. He has purchased all manner of perfection for the body of which it is capable. It shall be raised a spiritual body in incorruption and glory, and be made like Christ’s glorious body, to shine as the sun in the kingdom of his Father, and to exist in a glorified state in union with the soul to all eternity.
9. But man in his fallen state still needs something else in order to his happiness, than that these fore-mentioned blessings should be purchased for him, viz. He needs to be qualified for the possession and enjoyment of them. In order to our having a title to these blessings of the covenant of grace, [so that we can scripturally claim an interest in them,] there is a certain condition must be performed by us. We must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and accept of him as offered in the gospel for a Saviour. But, as we cannot do this of ourselves, Christ has purchased this also for all the elect. He has purchased, that they 147shall have faith given them; whereby they shall be [actively] united to Christ, and so have a [pleadable] title to his benefits.
But still something further is necessary for man, in order to his coming to the actual possession of the inheritance. A man, as soon as he has believed, has a title to the inheritance: but in order to come to the actual possession of it, he must persevere in a way of holiness. There is not only a gate that must be entered; but there is a narrow way that must be travelled, before we can arrive at heavenly blessedness; and that is a way of universal and persevering holiness. But men, after they have believed, cannot persevere in a way of holiness, of themselves. But there is sufficient provision made for this also, in the way of salvation by Jesus Christ. The matter of a saint’s perseverance is sufficiently secured by the purchase that Christ has made.
But still there is something else needful in order to qualify a person for the actual entering upon the enjoyments and employments of a glorified estate, viz. that he should be made perfectly holy; that all remainders of sin should be taken away; for there cannot any sin enter into heaven. No soul must go into the glorious presence of God, with the least degree of the filth of sin. But there is provision made: for Christ has purchased that all sin shall be taken away out of the hearts of believers at death; and that they should be made perfectly holy: whereby they shall be fully and perfectly qualified to enter upon the pleasures and enjoyments of the new Jerusalem.
Christ has purchased all, both objective and inherent good: not only a portion to be enjoyed by us; but all those inherent qualifications necessary to our enjoyment of it. He has purchased not only justification, but sanctification and glorification; both holiness and happiness.—Having considered the good attained in the way of salvation as manifold and various, I now proceed, as proposed,
II. To consider the good attained for us by this way of salvation, as exceeding great.
There is not only every sort of good we need, but of every sort in that degree, so as to answer the extent of our capacity, and the greatest stretch of our desires, and indeed of our conceptions. They are not only greater than our conceptions are here, but also greater than ever they could be, were it not that God’s relation, and our own experience, will teach us. They are greater than the tongue of angels can declare, the deliverance that we have in it is exceeding great; it is deliverance from guilt, from sin itself, from the anger of God, and from the miseries of hell.
How great is the good conferred! The objective good is the infinite God, and the glorious Redeemer, Jesus Christ. How great is the love of the Father, and the Son! And how near the relation between them and the true believer! How close the union, how intimate the communion, and ultimately how clear will be the vision in glory!
There are great communications made to the believing soul on earth, but how much greater in heaven! Then their conformity to God will be perfect, their enjoyment of him will be full, their honour great and unsullied, and the glory of body and soul ineffable. The riches of the Christian are immense; all things are included in his treasure. Pleasures unspeakably and inconceivably great await him; rivers of delight, fulness of joy; and all of infinite duration.
The benefit procured for us, is doubly infinite. Our deliverance is an infinite benefit, because the evil we are delivered from is infinite; and the positive good bestowed is eternal; viz. the full enjoyment of all those blessings merited.
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